Aerobic capacity, or VO2, is defined as the highest amount of oxygen that is consumed in one minute of aerobic exercise.
It’s often considered the standard test for determining aerobic conditioning.
The higher your aerobic capacity, the more the aerobic system will contribute to energy production. This means your endurance will improve no matter how high the intensity of your exercise.
Determining Your Maximum Aerobic Capacity
In order to improve aerobic capacity, you need to train at around 95% of your maximum aerobic capacity. To find out what your maximum aerobic capacity is, you need to perform a time trial.
Normally, this will take between six and eight minutes and you should be well rested beforehand.
You’ll need to monitor your speed and heart rate. During this test, you will need to perform at the highest intensity you can for six minutes. Your speed and heart rate at this maximum, six-minute intensity will give you your maximum aerobic capacity.
Putting Your Maximum Aerobic Capacity to Use
In order to increase your maximum aerobic capacity, you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time performing at your maximum oxygen consumption. More than likely, you will need to raise your intensity and duration.
However, even when you are performing at a high intensity, it only takes about one minute and forty seconds to raise your oxygen consumption needed to increase aerobic capacity.
Two Ways to Maintain Maximum Oxygen Consumption
There are two ways that you can maintain your maximum oxygen consumption for an extended time. One is repeat training, and the other interval training. Repeat training has long repetitions, and a full recovery between sets.
Since you need about two minutes to elevate your oxygen consumption, your repeats must be quite a bit longer than two minutes. Interval training requires shorter repetitions at the same high intensity, but with shorter recovery times.
By reducing these recovery times, the maximum oxygen consumption will occur much faster during each repetition. This allows you to keep your oxygen consumption elevated for a much larger percentage of the set.
Performing at a Higher Intensity for Shorter Intervals
You should not perform at a higher intensity for shorter intervals. This will not help your aerobic capacity, but will actually increase your recovery time. The normal aerobic capacity set should be five sets at three minutes each. You should have a three minute recovery. This is a very difficult workout and you will need to build up to it.
Where to Begin
You should begin your aerobic capacity training slowly. It will actually be a very noticeable increase in intensity for most people. Consider shorter rest intervals, with a total “on” time of about eight to twelve minutes.
You should build your volume up slowly, but consistently. As you progress, you need to shift your sets to those with longer repetitions. Make sure you monitor how your body recovers very carefully. It can really vary between individuals. Even those athletes who are used to a high volume training program can break down very easily with aerobic capacity.